I have been working really hard to be inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community in my personal and business life. As a member of the community, even I find it hard sometimes to shake off the hetero-normative way I talk. I have talked with my friend Mason Aid numerous times. We chat about being inclusive in parenting, my business and just dealing with life. (I featured them last week in my post about the importance of inclusivity in your biz.) I have been researching and sharing and in all of this research, I realized one thing. How absolutely gender-centric the wedding world really is!
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT I MEAN…
In the wedding professional world, almost all businesses market exclusively to women because (as a whole) they are typically the ones planning the wedding. Therefore, a newly engaged LGBTQ+ person who doesn’t identify as a woman/female may feel completely excluded. All because of the way websites exclusively talk to brides.
Due to the use of non-inclusive language many LGBTQ+ community members turn to sources like EquallyWed to find LGBTQ+ friendly wedding professionals.
LITTLE SIDE NOTE:
With all my research, I was intrigued to see how many of the vendors on equally wed identified as LGBTQ+. I have got to say, I was was rather shocked to see there were so few listed. Literally only 10 businesses in the whole directory identified as LGBTQ+ People!
Now, I may be an expert in stationery and techy-biz things, but I am so not an expert on planning parties and weddings. And as much as I love all the wedding community allies to the LGBTQ+ community, I knew that only an LGBTQ+ person had the unique perspective I was hoping to capture.
That is why I set out on a journey to find the perfect person and I think I nailed it! I reached out to a champion for inclusivity within the LGBTQ+ and Wedding Communities. So say hello to Jove Meyer and his team at Jove Meyer Events in NYC. (I was totally stoked that Jove took time to answer my questions.)
So let’s learn how to help our LGBTQ+ guests (a.k.a. our friends and family) feel more welcome. Not to mention, breaking up with those archaic gender-centric traditions!
Jove, obviously, inclusivity is important and therefore should be considered in all aspects of our lives. Could you speak to the importance of planning an inclusive event?
Everyone plans special events throughout their lives and should feel comfortable and supported in doing so without fear of rejection, hate or negativity based on their gender identity, sexuality, race or religion. Everyone deserves to celebrate and no one should feel worried that they may be treated differently because they are LGBTQ+ people. If you work in the events world you should be ready to work with all kinds of diverse people from all walks of life. If they love your work you should be flattered and excited to collaborate with them on their special occasion regardless of their gender identity or sexuality.
What are some simple/basic things couples and planners can do to make an inclusive atmosphere for their guests?
Language is a great place to be more inclusive. It is often so easy to use words that you have used for much of your life, but with a little effort and practice, you can make guests feel more welcome and loved by using inclusive language.
- Rather than say bride, say couple.
- Rather than say bridal suite say private room.
- Rather than say bridal party, say wedding party.
- Do not assume couples have same gendered wedding parties. Simply ask the names of those in the party and leave gender out of it.
- On your contracts replace bride and groom with client 1 and client 2, or rather name 1 and name 2.
There is no reason we should be using bride-centric language in a country where marriage equality has passed and everyone can be married, same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike. Another way to make events more inclusive is to ask the couple their preferred pronouns, and if they have any guests who have preferred pronouns they should be aware of. It is a simple question, but it will make guests who may go by a pronoun that does not match their visible gender feel seen and feel more comfortable.
If you are not sure, never assume, just ask. Take time to be more present in your business and the relationships you have with people, a little moment of clarification and language correction will go along way to make people feel comfortable.
What are the most un-inclusive party traditions that you have seen/experienced? How can couples and planners prevent these things from happening?
There are not any wedding traditions that couples are forced to do. Each wedding and every couple should embrace the traditions that resonate with them, their love, and their relationship. If they don’t, I encourage them to create new traditions.
For the couples who still toss the bouquet to the single ladies. You could invite all single people who want to try to catch it, rather than just women.
What is a subtle hint to give guests that this will be a safe/inclusive event
Being a kind-hearted, open and loving person is the best way to create an inclusive event. Guests will feel your intentions and energy based on your actions and words. Be thoughtful with those and you should be good!
Being an ally doesn’t mean you have to walk around with a rainbow pin or waving a flag. It means when others make mistakes you kindly correct them. You stand up for LGBTQ+ people when we are not present and when we are. You support, uplift and encourage us to be our true selves, you create a level of comfort for LGBTQ+ people to be authentic and present themselves as they are. Not in a conforming way to please straight people.
meet our guest
Jove Meyer Events was born after Jove planned and designed his best friend’s wedding in the summer of 2008, and loved every minute of it! In the decade since The Knot has called him a Wedding Wizard and listed him as one of the top 100 wedding pros! US Weekly has called him a Wedding Guru. He and his work have been featured in publications worldwide, most notably The New York Times, Vogue, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, Refinery29, Marie Claire, Bridal Guide, The Knot, BuzzFeed and many more. Jove has appeared twice on Rachael Ray.
Jove is a fierce advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and marriage equality. He co-taught the first LGBTQ+ wedding webinar in partnership with The Knot. And speaks passionately about inclusivity in the wedding space as well as working with same-sex couples around the world at Engage, Destination Wedding Planners Congress and domestically at The Knot Workshops.
Jove Meyer is the host of the popular podcast Weddings-ish with Jove! He is the creator of the “Totes Getting Married” tote bag and the founder of the Planners Dining Club.
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Planning your wedding and want to learn more about Jove’s Services?